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Renters!

Children's sermon
Object: 
A key for each child. The most meaningful is to use some real keys no one uses anymore, but you could also create keys out of cardboard, paper, or plastic to give them.
Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. (vv. 33-34)

Hello everyone! I have a question for you. Can anyone tell me what a vineyard is? (Let them answer.) A vineyard is something like a farm, but for grapevines instead of corn, or beans, or something like that. Has anyone ever been to a vineyard? (Let them answer.) Some vineyards have a lot of vines growing and are pretty big, aren’t they? (Let them answer.)

Jesus told a story about a vineyard, but back then vineyards were pretty small, more like a garden than a farm. Most vineyards had a fence around them that was built out of big stones. The fence was to keep things out of the vineyard that might hurt the vines or eat the grapes. And they built a big stone tower in the middle of the vineyard. It was called a ‘watchtower’ because that is where someone stayed so they could watch the whole vineyard and make sure nothing got inside the fence to hurt anything.

Jesus told a story about a vineyard that was owned by a man who lived too far away to take care of it, so he had someone else stay there to watch over it for him. They did that a lot. The owner would pay someone to live at the vineyard and take care of the vines. The owner gave them a key to the vineyard’s gate so they could get in and take care of everything. And, when the grapes were ripe and ready, the owner gave a share of the grapes to the people who had been taking care of them instead of the owner taking them all. It was part of their pay for taking care of the vineyard.

Jesus’s story was about the day when the grapes were ready and the owner sent some of his servants to the vineyard to get the owner’s grapes and leave the rest for the renters. But something happened. Do you know what it was? (Let them answer.)

Instead of giving the servants the grapes, the renters threw stones at them and hit them with big sticks. That wasn’t the right thing to do, was it? (Let them answer.) They even killed one of the servants, but the other two ran back and told the owner what had happened. The owner sent another group of servants to the vineyard and the same thing happened. Finally, the owner sent his own son to the vineyard because he knew the renters would treat him better. Do you think they did? (Let them answer.) No. The renters were so mean they threw the owner’s son over the fence of the vineyard and killed him too. (Let them respond if they start to.)

What do you think happened next? (Let them answer.) The owner was so angry, he went to the vineyard with his other servants. He took the gate key away from the renters and threw the renters over the fence. The owner took the vineyard away from them and found someone else to take care of the vineyard. And he paid the new renter the money he was going to pay the first renters, and instead of just giving the new renter their share of the grapes, the owner gave them his share too. The bad renters lost everything because of the things they had done.

That is a sad story, isn’t it? (Let them answer.) Why do you think Jesus told us that story? Any ideas? (Let them answer.)

When Jesus told it, he had been talking with some of the important religious people at the temple; the people who were supposed to be taking care of God’s temple and God’s people, just like someone takes care of a vineyard. But instead of taking care of everything, the religious leaders were being mean and cruel and were even stealing from God’s temple. Jesus told the story to remind those leaders they weren’t supposed to be doing those things.

But I think there was another reason Jesus told that story. I think he was telling it for us to remember too. I think Jesus wants us to remember that we are like the people renting a vineyard. Jesus wanted us to remember that God has asked us to take care of his creation; his people and his world. God wants us to take care of each other the way God would take of us, and take care of the entire world the way God would take care of it.

Can you think of one way we might take care of each other the way God would take care of us? (Let them answer.)

What about the entire world? Can you think of a way we might take care of the world the way God would take care of it? (Let them answer.)

Those are great ideas! I think God would be very happy if we took care of his vineyard doing things like that, don’t you? (Let them answer.)

I have something to give you to help us remember that we are supposed to do those things and take care of God’s creation. Here is a key. (Give a key to each child.) We’ll imagine this is a key to the gate of God’s entire creation. This key means that we are in charge of the creation. We don’t own it, we are just taking care of it for God. That is our job.

Let’s say a short prayer and ask God to help us remember how to do a really good job taking care of God’s vineyard!

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for giving us this wonderful creation to take care of. Please help us remember that we are supposed to take care of each other, and take care of your world.
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